Groundhog night?

Ah, day two.  Groundhog night? Not a bit of it really. This time the evening started in a hotel, waiting for Ella’s train to get in – once we’d got ourselves checked in and sorted we nipped up to the marvellous Tap and Tumbler for a few drinks and general catching up with folk.  There was a nice atmosphere about the place, and I finally succumbed to the temptation I always have in there to buy a pint of Trooper – Iron Maiden produced beer, and very nice it was too.  With plenty of folk on hand to talk to, it was a splendid way to start the night.

Better still, who should be stood next to me at the bar but Cliff – who I mentioned yesterday.  I’ve literally not seen him for a good many years, and it was absolutely fantastic to get the chance for a prolonged natter at the bar.  Reminiscing, putting the world to rights and occasional introductions – it was great.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog (which gave me my record views in a day since the blog’s inception – thank you!) Cliff tutored me through firewalking and glasswalking back in the day – both amazing experiences on different ends of the adrenaline scale.

The only pitfall was as time did its inevitable thing we realised we’d propped the bar up and talked our way through the support slot of Louise Distras which is very remiss of me, my humblest apologies to her.  In the venue we headed up to the balcony, Ella was planning on taking in the gig from on high – whilst unlike yesterday I was planning on getting smashed around the moshpit for an hour and a half.  Which gave Ella dual duties of set list noting and carrying my assorted breakables.  So it’s thanks to her that I have the song order, haha!

As the lights dimmed the intro music boomed around the expectant venue – definitely felt like a denser (as in volume, not intelligence!) crowd in tonight as I shimmied my way through to a decent spot, Ferocious Dog arrived on stage – it was the whole band who came on at once tonight – and launched straight into what I think it’s their best opening track (hotly debated in the pub before the gig, and broadly agreed by everyone) which is of course Gallows Justice.  A real musical statement of intent – laying down a marker for what’s the follow – and a sign they are perhaps heading back to a more familiar set list configuration!

Whoa, the Ferocious-cokey!

This was followed up with the bass-leaden intro for Poor Angry and Young – at which point the shirts were off in a very lively (but very considerate, as ever) mosh pit.  I absolutely loved every minute of it, even if it was knackering – clearly I’m in need of more moshercise.  Verse for Lee brings down the pace – no moshing, again deafening singing back from the crowd which is quite a poignant moment.  The Glass gets us moving again but mutedly, before Lee’s Tune brings everyone back up to full-on frenzy mode.  It’s quite cleverly configured really if you think about it like that.

Ruby Bridges was up next and then on to Crime and Punishment – a spot of pretend line-dancing before chucking ourselves around again!  Raggle Taggle Gypsy followed which seemed to give the crowd an extra bit of bounce (and indeed, the musicians – I’m conscious I’m probably skipping over subtleties of what happened on stage – that’s because I probably had my back to it (or was on my arse on the floor, ha! for a chunk of it).  I reckon it was about this point John A snapped a string on his bass though, liiiiiiiikkkkke!

Too Late saw Nicki get a one-level elevation again – Paul still being sensible on the merch desk upstairs, let’s see how long his resolve lasts!  For Freeborn John Dean had already organised to be board with Rich surfing so I took the knee-brace position, meanwhile Dan had again secured himself another board – it all went rather swimmingly (Bru-C was there again, and this time didn’t have an awkward hover in the wings!).  Unconditional was up next and then into Lyla which is a nice little respite for the dancing until the latter’s instrumental kicks in again!  A welcome return for seldom-heard Blind Leading the Blind was next.

Then a surprise – a brief rendition of JLS’s Everybody in Love by Ken (I would have had no idea what that was if Ella hadn’t noted it) before a riproaring rendition of Living on Thin Air and then Marikana Massacre.  As Criminal Justice kicked in I had a little breather on the edge of the moshpit – noticing one of the bouncers had come in to keep people from bashing into a wheelchair in the corner, so I spent a few minutes giving him a bit of time out by redirecting stray moshers back into the pit – I caught up with him after the gig, he absolutely loved it and can’t wait for tomorrow.  Top bloke!

So Quiet Paddy was viewed from this position, along with Paddy on the Railway – with energy replenished a degree the temptation to jump in was getting stronger, I’m pretty sure I stayed put for Mairi’s Wedding Part II before launching myself back into the fray for Freethinker – the circle didn’t really work at all – more a double-layered horseshoe, maybe we have to give that up in smaller packed venues and go for the swaying instead? Haha.  Hell Hounds gave us the usual tear up – again dedicated to Kurtis and Jay – in there before the band went off to rapturous applause.

Loud roars for more didn’t take too long to see them come back – I’m not sure if it was Dan or John L Ken claimed needed to use the facilities.  The rousing finale was of course Slow Motion Suicide – and it was as spine-tingling as ever.  A magnificent performance.  With Dan promising every album track featuring over the three nights, I count two left to hear – one from each album – and I’m really excited at the prospect of hearing each of them this evening!  Once back upstairs and reunited with my glasses and things it was soon time to clear out of the venue.

Since we both had a bit of energy left we decided that we’d head on up to The Maze where a post-gig night was running, by the time we arrived it was pretty much time for the excellent Under a Banner who I’ll confess from the off, I’ve got no idea what they played by this juncture – but to me they’ve really punked up their sound, there’s venom and anger in there (and why wouldn’t there be given the political clusterfuck that surrounds us all) but with no loss of the craft of their sound.  We got to see a few bonus people as well as fellow wanderers from the previous gig too.

For Headsticks I was sneaky enough to grab a set list photo and sense-check as they went along to see if they were sticking to it (because they don’t always, the rebellious buggers!).  They are pretty angry too – the off-stage mild mannered and genial Andrew becoming a demented livewire, veins pronounced and eyes staring out into the crowd as he sings and shouts into the mic.  Two Sides kicked things off followed with Mississippi’s Burning and then Flatline Town – all played straight into one another which was very effective.

Mr I’m Alright Jack might be new (or I might’ve been drunk) – I’m sure I heard Andrew mention an EP in the works, which was followed by the more familiar Cold Grey English Skies.  Fanatics is where the crowd participation and the eyeballing from the stage (and sometimes the floor) is really kicked up a notch, leading into the ultimate crowd participation song of What Do You Want?  After those frenetic songs Paper Flowers drops the pace a smidge before being ratcheted up again for A World Away,

I think I might’ve heard Dying for a Lie before – but I do think it’s a newish one too as it’s not on either album, then it was on to Go, Move Shift – and a rousing finale of You’re Killing Me America.  Of course the crowd wanted more – and lucky for us there was time for one more song which was another new one on me in Big Game Hunter – a lambast against those people who seem to seek to literally destroy some of the beautiful things nature has bestowed upon us in the name of some kind of holiday.  Strange people.

A cracking set from both bands – I’m really pleased we decided to head on up – not least because the route back to the hotel took us past the amazing Victoria Kebab, giving us the chance to grab chicken tikka in a fresh nan – mmm – to die for.  As for today, we head over to Annie’s this afternoon for Matt’s birthday burgers – so we are taking in two of my favourite Nottingham-based eateries within a few hours of each other.  Oh then we’ve got some gig to go to as well apparently.  What an awesome night!



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